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RFF On The Issues Logo  

RFF on the Issues delivers timely policy insight from Resources for the Future 

​April 21, 2014

Mercury Regulations Upheld

Last week, the US District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) authority to enforce its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). The court ruled that the standards are "substantively and procedurally valid," despite concerns that the rules would severely increase electricity rates.

Various studies have attempted to predict the potential impacts of MATS. RFF’s Blair Beasley, Matt Woerman, Anthony Paul, Dallas Burtraw, and Karen Palmer attempted to reconcile the results of this research and found that the "studies that most closely match the regulatory requirements as laid out in the final MATS rule and do not include other proposed EPA regulations . . .[demonstrate] less severe impacts on the electricity market."

Beijing Pollution

The rapid growth of Beijing's economy, population, and energy use—along with pollution from surrounding provinces—is to blame for the city's continued air quality problems, according to the Beijing Environmental Protection Research Institute. China's government has drafted ambitious plans to cut future coal consumption, but challenges remain, including "big polluting industries and growth-obsessed local authorities."

In an interview with Resources magazine, RFF Visiting Fellow Mun Ho suggests that changes in China's demographics have facilitated support for more restrictive pollution policies: "[F]or a long time now, given the large-scale, low-income situation in China, growth has been the key priority. This is changing, now that China is developing more of a middle class. The emphasis now is on the quality of life. The quality of the environment, accordingly, is much higher on the agenda, but it is a difficult problem."

Local Shale Impacts

Video and presentations are now available from "Exploring the Local Impacts of Shale Gas Development," an RFF seminar held on April 10. Panelists discussed "the good, the bad, and the uncertain" impacts, including the effects of shale gas development on property values (with results from a study by RFF researchers). More information is available at RFF’s shale gas development resource page: www.rff.org/shalegasrisks.

New from Common Resources, RFF's blog on current research and policy debates: Carolyn Fischer on mixing and matching electricity policies.

To schedule an interview with an RFF expert, contact Pete Nelson, Director of Communications, at nelson@rff.org or 202.328.5191.

Archived editions of RFF on the Issues are available here.

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